National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) Associate Training Center, James B. Dudley High School, from Greensboro, NC, was featured in a three part documentary produced by Shell. The film series follows three teams as they prepare for and compete in the Shell Eco-Marathon, a competition which challenges student teams from around the world to design, build and test ultra energy-efficient vehicles. With annual events first in the Americas, then in Europe and Asia, the winners are the teams that go the furthest using the least amount of energy. More than 100 teams competed on the streets of downtown Houston in Shell Eco-Marathon Americas from April 5 through 7.
Members of the James B. Dudley High School Shell Eco-Marathon Team show one of their competition vehicles in The Road to Houston: Episode 1. Credit: Shell 2013.
The James B. Dudley High School team competed in the Urban Concept and Prototype divisions. Urban Concept cars must meet a series of roadworthiness criteria found in modern passenger vehicles (such as having four wheels, a steering wheel, head and tail lights, a brake pedal, doors, etc.). Prototype vehicles are streamlined vehicles in which the primary design consideration is reducing drag and maximizing efficiency.
James B. Dudley High School’s team built both their vehicles out of recycled materials. In one car, the driver sits in an old classroom seat, and a pram cover serves as an easy-to-open roof, while the car body contains a vacuum cleaner hose and spare bicycle parts. “Last year, one Eco-Marathon team spent $150,000 on their vehicle,” said automotive instructor and team leader, Ricky Lewis. “We’ve spent $150!”
The documentary follows James B. Dudley High School, along with two other teams, as they prepare for and compete in the Eco-Marathon. Along the way all of the teams face obstacles. “They’re learning co-operation, confidence and how to get the most out of what extremely limited resources they have,” said Lewis.
The team finished 20th in the Prototype division and 6th in the Urban Concept division, and completed the required ten laps for the first time. Ricky Lewis sums up their experiences, “They are all winners in my book just by doing their best. That is enough for me!